Let's face it: as an opportunistic eater, your dog likely enjoys gulping down food like there's no tomorrow, but what if your dog swallowed hot food? Can hot food cause damage to your dog's digestive tract? Dogs may react differently to the effects of hot food and often it depends on how hot the food really is and the dog's response to pain. Some dogs may readily whimper if the food happened to be coming just right of the oven, while others may hardly notice the food was hot or they may be stoic enough to not show any evident signs. If your dog ate hot food, you may want to keep an eye on your companion. Here's what vets say to watch for.
Signs of Trouble
If your dog has stolen food that just fell from the oven, grill or out of a microwave, most likely the food was very hot. While the dog's mouth, esophagus and stomach tissues tend to tolerate higher temperatures fairly well, if the food happened to be very hot, then it could potentially cause damage, points out veterinarian Dr. Matt.
When hot food happens to be swallowed, as it goes down the dog's digestive tract, it can cause burns. These burns may potentially cause the dog to feel nauseated and vomit, which in turn, can cause further damage to the already irritated digestive tract considering the vomit's acid content.
A vicious cycle may therefore take place considering that, the more the dog vomits, the more his digestive system is exposed to the corrosive nature of acid.
If your dog has therefore swallowed very hot food and is having nausea and vomiting, or if your dog seems to be in discomfort refusing to eat or drink, it is best to see the vet so to break the vicious cycle.
At the Vet's Office
Your vet will ask you several questions about the exact dynamics of what happened. Be prepared to answer questions about what food was eaten, how hot it was and when you noticed the symptoms start.
Your vet may then inspect your dog's mouth for any signs of burns and tissue damage to the dog's mouth, tongue and throat area. If there are chances for damage to the dog's esophagus, the vet may suggest an endoscopy so to visualize the presence of damage.
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There are chances that if the food was not very hot, your dog may be vomiting simply because he was exposed to a food that he's not used to eating. Many dogs vomit when they eat an unusual food that is not a normal part of their diet.
And of course, if your dog ate something greasy (which can cause pancreatitis in sensitive dogs), or potentially toxic, he may be vomiting because of that, more than because the food's temperature (or perhaps, in the worst case scenario, a combination of the two!)
Treating the Burns
If your vet determines that the food was likely very hot for your dog, he may provide something to stop the vomiting so to break the cycle of vomiting and creating more acid. Your vet can do this easily by giving an injection of a strong anti-emetic medication such as Cerenia for dogs.
Other types of medications that can be helpful are sucralfate, which coats the stomach, protecting it, or famotadine (Pepcid AC) which can help relieve stomach discomfort.
If your dog seems in pain, your vet may also decide to prescribe some pain meds, and if your vet suspects the presence of serious burns, your dog may even require a course of antibiotics to combat any possible infection. Severe cases, where dogs refuse to eat because it is too painful, may need to be fed via tube by the vet.
"Eating something hot could cause burns in the mouth, the esophagus and stomach. Could that irritation be causing vomiting ? It is possible. In a situation like that, the thing a vet could do to help the area heal is oral antacids like Famotidine and an oral stomach protectant / coating agent called Sucralafate."~Dr. Bruce
What Can be Done at Home
If you cannot see the vet right away, you can give your dog's digestive tract a break, by fasting your dog for at least 12 hours.
Afterward, bland diet of boiled chicken breast with plain white rice can be offered at a ratio of two parts rice and one part meat. This bland diet can be fed until the vomiting stops. After wards, the regular diet can be gradually introduced back by mixing more and more into the bland diet until it replaces it completely.
It may also help to give the dog some Pepcid AC to give the stomach relief. Dr. Matt suggests giving 5 mg for every 25 pounds of weight every 24 hours. Every tablet generally comes in 10mg tablets. It's always best to consult with a vet before giving any over the counter medications to dogs.
Dr. Matt suggests though still seeing the vet to play it safe as piping hot food may have damaged the tissue in the dog's esophagus or stomach.